Dealing with a Contentious Probate Claim

12 Aug 2020 | Katie de Swarte

Many people do not know what a contentious probate claim is until they have become embroiled in one. The root of these claims is a dispute over someone’s estate after they have died. They can take many forms, a few examples are:

  • Where a Will is invalid either due to a technicality (i.e. how it has been drafted) or if it has been made fraudulently or under duress or coercion or the person making the Will is thought not to have capacity at the time of making the Will;
  • Where someone you may have expected to inherit under a Will has not, such as a husband/wife or child;
  • Where the Executor under a Will is not acting properly in administering the estate or someone is preventing the estate from being correctly administered;
  • Where there is no Will and there are arguments as to who should deal with the estate;

This is by no means an exhaustive list but rather a highlight of the most common disputes we see.

The nature of these types of disputes are highly contentious and are invariably emotional and always costly. Although they are best avoided where possible, sometimes there is no choice if an issue cannot be resolved without legal assistance.

In order to try and avoid estate disputes it is imperative that you take expert advice as to your estate and what your wishes are. A properly drafted Will can dramatically reduce the possibility of the same being disputed. Conversely, a home drafted will can dramatically increase this possibility. Further, if you do not have a Will your estate will be dealt with in accordance with the Laws of Intestacy which set out which members of your family inherits from your estate.

If you find yourself in a position of dealing with a loved one’s estate and issues arise it is really important to seek advice as soon as possible. Letting an issue fester can exacerbate the situation and make it more complex to deal with, especially as there are certain procedures that need to be followed and time limits to keep in mind.

To speak with Katie de Swarte or another member of the Wills, probate and Disputed Estates team, contact us on 020 7485 8811 or fill in an online enquiry form.

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